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About This Book
'The Story of a Play' is a pleasing addition to the list of the charming trivialities to which Mr. Howells has chiefly devoted himself in the late years of the 19th century. It now seems a confirmed habit with him to select for treatment some closely circumscribed phase of experience, to make it the subject of the most searching and minute observation, and to develop its utmost possibilities. This intensive method of literary cultivation is the method best calculated to yield artistic results; and, if this work of Mr. Howells does sometimes suggest the carving of cherry-stones, the carving is very neatly done. Few subjects are more hackneyed than that of the budding man of letters seeking to make his way in an unappreciative world, and it requires some daring to bring it once more into service. In the present case, the aspirant for fame pins his fortunes to play- writing, which gives the author an opportunity to introduce the chief types of player-folk into his pages, and to illuminate their ways with many a flash of gentle humor. By making the wife of the hero collaborate in the work of writing the play, Mr. Howells is enabled to add to his collection another of those examples of femininity that usually prove so exasperating to the sex that they assume to represent. It is all very well by way of semi satirical pastime, but women are sometimes rational beings, the score or more of Mr. Howells's novels to the contrary notwithstanding.